THE FINISHING KICK
By Paul Wales

Bucs’ Firepower Too Much for the Falcons

Another Sunday of football went by which means the Buccaneers added another win to their 10 game win streak that dates back to the beginning of their Super Bowl run last season. But, unlike opening night two weeks ago, this past Sunday wasn’t much of a nail biter.

The Bucs’ offense seemed to be firing on all cylinders from kickoff, as Brady threw the ball for 276 yards and 5 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. The timeless duo of Brady and Gronkowski jump-started the offense early, connecting for the first two touchdowns of the game giving the Bucs a 14-0 lead. This is the second week in a row Gronk caught two touchdowns in a game, giving the big tight end the league lead in touchdown receptions going into Week 3.

As the Bucs were quick to get their offense going, the Dirty Birds struggled early to gain momentum. Tampa’s defensive line completely shut down the Atlanta run game, especially up the middle, which forced Matt Ryan to carry the load on offense with his arm. After a slow start to the first half, the Falcons finally found some success after Gronk’s second touchdown and matched it with one of their own as Cordarrelle Patterson found space on the outside for a 10 yard touchdown run. After forcing Tampa to punt on the next drive, Atlanta moved the ball from their own 10 yard line into Tampa Bay territory, but a clutch sack from Suh halted their momentum and allowed Brady to lead an 85 yard drive downfield that was capped off by a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans. Atlanta got the ball back with 43 seconds left and were able to convert a 36 yard field goal to end the half and cut the Bucs lead to 21-10.

The Bucs continued their early success to start the third quarter with an interception by Shaq Barrett in their own red zone, allowing Brady to find Evans in the end zone for his second touchdown of the game to make it a 3 score game.  The Falcons quickly brushed off their opening possession and regained their momentum scoring on back to back drives with a touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley and a one-handed snag by Patterson for his second TD of the game.  Atlanta’s second touchdown was followed by a successful two point conversion with an unlikely QB sneak from Matt Ryan to make the score 28-25.

After Tampa failed to score on their next drive, a great punt pinned Atlanta at their own 4 yard line. With the Falcons now having the ball and momentum on their side early in the fourth quarter with a chance to take the lead, the Bucs defense stepped up at the perfect time. The Tampa Bay defense forced the Falcons to go 3 and out, then a horrible punt made way for a 3 play, 43 yard drive ending with Chris Godwin catching Brady’s 5th touchdown pass of the game.  The Bucs defense terrorized Matt Ryan the next three possessions which consisted of a Pick-6 by Mike Edwards, a turnover on downs, then ANOTHER Pick-6 by Edwards that sealed the game for the Buccaneers.

Both Tampa Bay’s offensive firepower and run-dominant defense lead the way to another Buccaneers win to start off their quest to defend their Super Bowl title. Tampa’s next challenge awaits across the country this Sunday as they face-off against the 2-0 Los Angeles Rams and their explosive offense led by HC Sean McVay, and newly acquired quarterback, Matthew Stafford. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers could be traveling without one of the 7-time Super Bowl Champs’ favorite targets, as Antonio Brown has been placed on the Reserved/Covid list. This Sunday will be the Bucs’ biggest test yet this season with the defending champs looking to win their 11th straight game.